Marche, Mueller, Gilis and Moverley Claim Final Places at Open International de Squash de Nantes
By SEAN REUTHE
Defending champion Gregoire Marche booked his place in a third successive Open International de Squash de Nantes final after he defeated Egypt’s Mazen Hesham to set up a final clash with Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller – while Belgium’s Nele Gilis and England’s Fiona Moverley also triumphed in Les Machines de l’île to reach the women’s final.
Marche went head-to-head in a high-octane encounter with Hesham which saw Les Machines de l’île turn into a cauldron of noise as the home fans got behind the French number one seed.
He saw a two-game lead cut in half by a resurgent Hesham but overturned four game balls in the fourth game to seal an 11-6, 7-11, 11-1, 14-12 victory that puts him one win away from a third straight title in Nantes.
“It was a bit up and down tonight, Mazen can do crazy things with his racket,” said World No.23 Marche.
“There are some games when he can completely give up like he did in the third game, so you never know with him. I was 8-3 down in the fourth and I knew, even if I was down, that it’s never finished with him because he can hit three winners and then make four mistakes, so I just pushed myself in the end.
“There’s something special here for me in Nantes, maybe because it’s the one tournament in France ,you want to do well and I am really motivated. It’s the first one of the season so it proved that I did a great job during the summer and I am happy to be in the final again.”
Marche will take on Swiss World.30 Nicolas Mueller in the title decider of the PSA M25 tournament after Mueller defeated England’s Ben Coleman to earn a place in his first Tour final since 2014.
Mueller, the Zurich-based 28-year-old, prevailed 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4 and he will look to claim a sixth successive victory over Marche in tomorrow’s final.
“I’m very happy with the way I played, I played attacking squash and I knew the conditions suited me a bit better than him,” said Mueller.
“I love it when it is cold outside because the ball doesn’t bounce as much. I overdid it in the third, I went short too quickly and I felt too comfortable and he punished me severely. I’m very happy that I found my length again in the fourth and I think that was the difference in the end.
“Greg [Marche] and I go back a long time, we’ve known each other for 15 years, I think. We know each other’s game very well and we’ve got a lot of respect for each other.”
Meanwhile, Gilis launched a superb comeback from two games down to beat top seed Millie Tomlinson, with a 7-11, 11-13, 11-6, 13-11, 11-3 triumph sending her into an eighth Tour final.
World No.27 Gilis looked like she was heading home after a virtuoso performance from Tomlinson saw her rise to a 2-0 advantage but Gilis refused to back down and stormed back to win three games without reply.
“The first two games I was so nervous and a little scruffy,” said the 21-year-old Belgian.
“Then after the second game I tried to keep it more simple and it is just such an electrifying crowd that they gave me that extra push I needed today and I was so happy to get the win.
“I’m really pleased with how I came back and looking forward to the final and whoever it may be. I’m just going to enjoy it and hopefully the crowd will be as good tomorrow.”
England’s Fiona Moverley stands between Gilis and the fifth title of her career, with the World No.24 from Hull seeing off Canada’s Hollie Naughton in straight games.
Naughton played some superb squash to defeat home favourite Coline Aumard in the previous round but Moverley played with unerring precision and confidence to record an 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 victory in just 24 minutes.
“I’m over the moon to come through in three,” said Moverley following the match.
“It’s a really strong women’s draw this year and it’s a really open tournament. I know I’m seeded two and I’ve got to the final but there was no easy route to get there. Everyone is playing at a really high level and on any given day we can beat each other so it was really important to find my form and build myself into the tournament, which I think I’ve done.”
Live coverage from the final of the Open International de Squash de Nantes begins from 15:00 local time (CEST) on Sunday September 10 and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – Semi-Finals: 2017 Men’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt  Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-1, 14-12 (58m)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4 (48m)
Draw – Final: To Be Played September 10th
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Results – Semi-Finals: 2017 Women’s Open International de Squash de Nantes
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-2: 7-11, 11-13, 11-6, 13-11, 11-3 (61m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt  Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (24m)
Draw – Final: To Be Played September 10th
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Fiona Moverley (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA